Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Drum roll, please... For the first time in his entire life, Ethan just slept for EIGHT HOURS STRAIGHT. Since the night he was born almost 9 months ago, I haven't slept for more than 4 hours in a row...until tonight!!!!! (In case you're wondering, I'm writing this post at 4:30 am because he woke at 4:00 and I am so wired from so much uninterupted sleep that I can't go back to sleep.) I have no idea why he slept tonight. The only change in his routine was that Papa and Nanna (my parents) arrived yesterday and so Nanna rocked him to sleep at bedtime. He slept alone in his crib with his special blankie just like always. I know that one night is way too soon to hope that this is a new trend, but I guarantee we will be utilizing Nanna's superb rocking abilities for the next seven nights that she is here!

On another note...praise God for family visiting! It is so wonderful to have extra hands, voices and hearts to help with the kids. Last night, my dad and I did the dishes while Nanna read books with Caleb in his bed for about 30 minutes. Then Nanna put Ethan to bed while Marcus and I lounged around and visited with Dad. What a relaxing contrast to our usual kid-intensive (and then cleaning & study-intensive) evenings. As I shared in a post last year, there is something deep inside of me that is touched when I am priviliged to see other people loving my children. Watching my mom tickle and laugh and build with and praise the boys and watching my dad take them outside and carry on a dialogue while Caleb rides his bike in circles gives my soul a special kind of peace. I think part of it is that I do my best to actively love my children with at least part of my attention almost all of the time, and seeing someone else doing so gives me permission to take a mental break. Another part of it is just seeing my precious sons so happy basking in the extra attention. For the first two hours that my parents were here yesterday, Caleb couldn't wipe the huge smile off his face. He just kept running around the room saying "Nanna and Papa are here!" My mom gets as silly as can be with the kids, and they LOVE it. It is a rare person who can get on the level of a child and stay there for an extended period of time, and my mom is definitely one of those people. I can definitely see why Dad was always so impressed with her mothering when we were small. She seems to gain energy from the play rather than the opposite. Since her health has improved so much this year, the last 3 visits she has been much quicker to get on the floor and play physically as well as the usual reading and talking and holding interaction.

Another reason I love family visiting is because I truly love to play hostess. I have always loved this role, but so much more since I became a mother. Like most kids, my two do so much better in their own environment, particularly in their own beds, and when family comes to us we all experience the blessing of family time without having to sacrifice our own sleep and our kids sleep, which for the kids is really more than sleep...its more like their emotional stability and life equilibrium. Anyway, I actually enjoy the whole getting the house ready and thinking of everything that each guest enjoys and will appreciate. Call me crazy, but I even like cooking for a group, which I find much more satisfying than cooking for two people and dealing with leftovers. I enjoy the chaos of a lot of voices and a lot of laughter, and most of all I thrive on the ample adult conversation! My dad laughed his loud infectious belly-laugh last night when I started quoting a children's book (Silly Sally, for you other mommies) and was able to go quote most of the book. "Rachel, you are really in need of some intellectual stimulation, aren't you?" I laughed just as hard as him and readily acknowledged that my vocabulary and my conversational scope has declined considerable in the past few years.

On a final note, it is just good to be in the presence of those who love us, understand us and accept us where we are. I believe it is as God intended when he created the family unit. I just heard Ethan again, so I guess I'll sign off for now. I'll try to add some pictures later on :) Merry Christmas!!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Day In the Life Of...

The other day, someone asked me in a skeptical tone what exactly I do all day at home with the kids.  I mentally vowed to write a play-by-play of my day to burn off the ire produced in me by that question, and here it is :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

5:02 am Wake up to Ethan fussing in his crib; nurse Ethan and try to get him back to sleep .
5:25 am Bring Ethan down to dear hubby who is on my computer downstairs after tending to Caleb at 5 am as well, and then I go back to sleep for 20 minutes.
5:45 am Marcus brings Ethan back to me so he can take a shower and get ready for work.
5:55 am I take a quick shower while Marcus is getting dressed and Ethan is crawling around in our room.
6:05 am Marcus leaves for work. I put on some make-up and dry my hair since Ethan is happy on the floor in our room and Caleb is still sleeping (or so I think); I'm excited to be dressed with make-up on so soon after waking up and feel ready for the day.
6:15 am I hear Caleb coming down the hall toward our room. I poke my head out the door and smile "Good morning sweet boy!" Caleb says "Mama, come downstairs! I get food out." I think, "Oh no, I didn't even know he was up...what has he gotten out?" I grab Ethan and walk downstairs with Caleb and am relieved to see that there is no mess, but that Caleb has succesfully taken out of the fridge and pantry most of the ingredients needed for pancakes. "Mommy, please make some pancakes for me!" Even though pancakes are usually reserved for Saturday mornings, I decide to make an exception. I put Ethan in the high chair with some veggie puffs and small bites of banana, and then Caleb and I mix up the pancake batter and made pancakes together. While Caleb and Ethan are eating, I dash downstairs to feed the dogs and let them outside. Then I come upstairs, wolf down 2 pancakes, and start cleaning up Caleb and Ethan's food messes.
7:00 am The kitchen is reasonably tidy. We all go downstairs to play with toys. Caleb wants to color so I take out his coloring book and crayons and maintain a dialogue with him about his art while building towers for Ethan to knock down.

7:30 am I nurse Ethan down for morning nap while Caleb watches Sid the Science Guy on PBS. The dogs start barking just as I lay Ethan down in the crib, so I sprint downstairs, call them into the garage, give them a treat for coming, and close them in the garage.
7:45 am Ethan is asleep and I have 15 more minutes of Sid the Science Guy during which I do NOT have to rush through a shower because I already took one. Instead, I take the trash bin out to the curb, get the mail, pay three bills, move a bunch of stuff from the foyer closet into Marc's office to be later organized into the office closet, and load the car and pack the diaper bag for the morning's outings.
8:00 am Caleb sneaks an extra 10 minutes of TV (Super Wy, for you PBS lovers out there), while I am finishing my flurry of tasks.
8:10 am I creatively lull Caleb from the TV and successfully avoid a tantrum. Then Caleb and I take out the chilled sugar cookie dough we made the previous night (from scratch!) and start rolling, cutting and baking cookies. We each sample one from the first pan and agree that they need frosting. I take out a cook book and look for a good frosting recipe while Caleb asks "What are you doing, Mama? What does it say?" over and over again. I quickly select a recipe and we start measuring (me) and pouring (Caleb) ingredients.

9:05 am Ethan wakes up while we are mixing the frosting. While I am upstairs getting Ethan out of his crib, Caleb loses interest in cooking and goes down to the play room (with flour-covered hands, face and clothes). I come downstairs, put Ethan on the floor with a toy, and clean up Caleb (and spots of flour on the banister and the blocks he was playing with).
9:15 am I leave the sugar cookies cooling all over the kitchen and the freshly mixed batch of frosting, and pile the kids in the car for our morning errands. I let the dogs back outside just before pulling out of the garage.
9:30 am We arrive at Home Depot, get a cart, unload six long boards into cart, unload Ethan into cart, unbuckle Caleb and help him get out of the car. I awkwardly steer heavy cart with one hand while holding Caleb's hand with my other hand. We walk (at Caleb's pace) to the back of the store where the circular saw is located and wait while a kind young man saws my six boards in half for me.
10:05 am Back in car with kids and boards. Drive 3 minutes to the post office, unload kids, use Automated Postal Center to buy postage while Caleb runs in a circle and Ethan squirms and whines in my arms. Mail package and head back to car to drive 5 minutes to the library.

10:30 am Arrive at the library for story time. Unload kids for the 3rd time, walk into library with a squirming, very grouchy Ethan who hasn't nursed since before his nap (3 hours ago). Make it into the story time room, greet a friend, find a chair, get Caleb settled and then finally nurse Ethan. Chat with friend in snatches with one eye on very wound-up and excited Caleb and one eye on Ethan, who is crawling around the room (after nursing).
11:00 am Storytime is over so we go into the toddler area of the library so Caleb can do puzzles, pick out books and play a game on the toddler computers. Ethan, while no longer hungry, is still squirmy and whiny because he hasn't had much crawling/exploring time since he got up from his nap (the floor in the toddler area of the library is too dirty for him to crawl on).
11:30 am I've had enough of keeping Ethan happy in my lap and I inform Caleb gently that its time to leave. He starts to throw a fit, so I warn him that I will not check out the books he has selected if he does not cooperate with me. He gets control of himself and we depart. On our way out, I attempt to find a book on CD that Marcus wanted but it is not easily located and both kids are at the end of their ropes, so I abort the effort and head to the car.

11:45 am Arrive home, put Ethan in high chair with finger food, make PB&J for Caleb's lunch, and start cleaning up the cookie mess that I left in the kitchen. Caleb loses interest in his lunch while watching me put away the cookies and starts to beg for one. I tell him that he can have some if he finishes his lunch. He finishes his lunch and I give him half of a cookie. I remember that I forgot to give both boys their antibiotics (from last week's ear infections) so I do that hurriedly. By now Ethan is bored with his high chair foods and very ready for his afternoon nap, so I take him upstairs and put him to sleep.
12:10 pm I come downstairs and find that Caleb has moved his cookie-munching operation downstairs and is watching TV, which I promptly turn off. Caleb and I go upstairs to read library books in his bed before his nap. He decides he would rather hear stories about Peter Pan than read books, so I tell him two Peter Pan stories and then give him his cup of milk and say goodnight.

12:30 pm Both kids are in their beds! I grab a frosted cookie and some leftover bean soup from the fridge and plop down at my computer chair. I eat in less than 10 minutes and spend 10 more minutes writing email and Christmas shopping online. I get up from my computer to walk upstairs and lay down for a few minutes when Caleb's door opens and he says "I'm all done sleeping, Mama!" I groan inwardly at his bright-eyed face and realize that today is going to be one of the days that he doesn't take a nap. (They are becoming more and more frequent.)
12:50 pm I resign myself to a breakless day and Caleb and I head outside so he can ride his bike in the driveway and I can sweep out the garage. After sweeping out the garage and rolling balls down our sloped driveway with Caleb for a while, I decide to go ahead and blow off the driveway as well since it is saturated with leaves.

1:45 pm Ethan wakes up from his afternoon nap. I make Caleb come inside while I get Ethan. When I come downstairs with Ethan, Caleb has decided he would rather color again than play outside. I nurse Ethan while Caleb colors, and then ask Caleb if he is ready to go outside. Caleb says "No." Ethan loves being outside and it is beautiful weather today, so I tell Caleb that Ethan and I are gonig to go outside and he can stay in the play room if he wants. So I put Ethan's hoodie on, grab the video camera and sit outside taping Ethan while he crawls around, perfectly happy to be outdoors. Caleb joins us within a minute a two and I tape the two of them for a few minutes. Less than ten minutes after we all got outside, I realize that Caleb has taken a dump in his Pull-up. I mentally debate whether I should drag Ethan back inside for Caleb's diaper change (which would certainly involve a lot of angry crying), or just change Caleb outside standing up. I elect to change Caleb outside, so I dart indoors to grab the supplies. After I open just one side of Caleb's Pull-up, I realize this is no ordinary poop. It is more like some pasty black explosion. I realize that a whole package of wipes would not make any headway with this mess, so I take a deep breath, strip Caleb naked, take his hand, pick up Ethan with the other hand, and head for the bathtub. Ethan is wailing before we even get inside and continues to cry throughout the entire ordeal. I get a surprisingly cooperative Caleb into the tub and begin the disgusting task of cleaning him up. While I am doing this, Ethan keeps pulling up on the tub and then keeling over because his crying throws off his balance, and then crying harder because he bumps his head each time. This cycle occurred at least four times while I was cleaning the poop off of Caleb. When Caleb's bottom and the bath tub are reasonably clean, I start to take Caleb out. Caleb asks me very sweetly if he can take a real bath with bubbles now. Once again, I sigh inwardly and decide to give up on Ethan's outside time. Besides, I reason, Ethan will be just as happy in the bath with Caleb as he would be outside. So I bathe the boys together, Ethan stops crying and order is restored for the moment. I look at my watch and am quite chagrined to realize that it is only 2:34 pm. Marcus won't be home for three or four more hours!!
2:35 pm I take the boys out of the bath, dry them off and dress them in fresh clothes. We all go back downstairs to the play room. I read several library books to Caleb while Ethan plays with toys. UPS stops by with two packages. One is a surprise gingerbread house from Nanna and Papa. Caleb is enamored with the gingerbread house and he spends the next 30 minutes staring at it, talking about it, and asking me over and over when he can eat it. When he gets to the point that he won't stop trying to pick it up, I finally take it upstairs and put it on top of the entertainment center in the living room. On my way back downstairs I check messages and remember that my Mom called the night before. I call my mom back and talk for about 15 minutes. During most of the conversation, Caleb is rushing around the play room doing as many things as he can think of to demand my attention (dumping toys, pulling books off shelves, driving his car as close as possible to Ethan's fingers and head on the floor, etc.). I finally give up on talking to my Mom, get off the phone, and take Caleb to his time out seat.

3:25 pm Caleb asks for a snack so I get him a bowl of Chex Mix and nurse Ethan while Caleb eats. Then Ethan and Caleb play ball on the stairs. Caleb takes a soft plastic ball and drops it down the five steps into our play room. Ethan retrieves it at the bottom and both boys squeal with glee. Caleb says, "Look, Mama, Ethan is getting be a BIG BOY! He catch my ball!" They do this over and over while I spend a few minutes on my computer (which is right next to the stairs) and call a friend about a Friday play date.
3:45 pm We play with blocks, Little People toys and read two more books. Caleb struggles with sharing anything with Ethan, and ends up sitting in time-out two more times. Marcus calls and we talk for a few minutes. While we are talking, Caleb darts into the living room, climbs up on the end table, and takes a bite out of the gingerbread house. He comes back in the room after I hang up the phone, obviously chewing something. I say, "Caleb, what are you eating?" He swallows and says "No eating, Mama, nothing eating." I ask him to open his mouth, to which he complies. I see pink gummy stuff in his molars and remember the gingerbread house. I go in the living room to assess the damage and have to keep from laughing out loud at his guilty face and the clearly tampered-with gingerbread house. I move the end table to avoid a repeat experience.
4:07 pm I look at my watch and start counting the minutes until Marcus might be home. I'm almost out of stamina for playing, but I muster together what I've got and initiate a game of small-scale soccer with Caleb. Ethan enjoys watching the ball go back and forth. This is the slowest hour of the day, and neither Caleb nor I have much attention span for anything. We go out into the garage to talk to the dogs; I load the dishwasher; I nurse Ethan. As 5:00 pm approaches, I do two puzzles with Caleb.

5:00 pm Caleb jumps up from the second puzzle and says "Mama I need some food real lots! I'm a real hungry boy!!!!" We all go into the kitchen and I give Ethan some canned corn to feed himself in the high chair. I make Caleb chicken nuggets and corn for dinner, and throw a frozen pizza in the oven for Marcus and me (I cook a real meal 6 nights out of 7, but tonight just happened to be frozen pizza night.)
5:30 pm Both boys are finished eating. I wipe off their faces and hands and leave the mess on the table and high chair. We go downstairs to wait for Daddy to come home, though he still hasn't called so I realize that it will be at least 30 more minutes. Caleb asks me to hold him in my big nursing recliner, so I comply. I enjoy several minutes of hugging my precious big boy before I realize that he has fallen asleep in my arms. (This is extremely unusual. Usually he goes to bed between 7:00 and 8:00, even if he doesn't nap.) I take Caleb upstairs and lay him in his bed. I come downstairs and play with Ethan for a little while.

6:00 pm I nurse Ethan to sleep in the play room and deposit him in his bed. (He does usually go to sleep for the night between 6:00 and 7:00 pm.) Marcus calls right after I get downstairs to say that he is leaving work and will be home in 30 minutes. We talk for a few minutes and I explain how it came to be that both kids are asleep before he gets home. We hang up and I remember that the boys did not get their evening antibiotics. I shrug my shoulders, put my slices of the frozen pizza on a plate and enjoy 30 minutes of quiet, grateful that my 13-hour workday has come to a close. (Except of course I still have to load the dishwasher and pick up the playroom.)

If you've read this entire post, then I'm sure that you will never make the mistake of asking a stay-at-home mom, "So what do you do all day?"